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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

The Foreplay Of A Tiger: Ugorji’s Deliberate Strides In The Run For Governor – By Ngozi Ajilo-Ibeh



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My late father, H.R.H. Eze Ajlo Ibeh (May his gallant soul rest in peace) was among the first to suggest that Dr. Ugorji should run for governor in Imo State. Unfortunately my dad passed away before he could see one of his favorite young leaders deep his first set of toes in the Imo River. I am certain that where he is now, the Aladinma 1 of Chokoneze would be happy at the news of Ugorji’s potential run. I also believe that to the degree the ancestors look favorably towards us and intercede in the affairs of humans, Eze Ajiloh Ibeh and others in his company will be protective of the young man whose maternal home is Chokoneze.


Those who are close to Dr. Ugorji Okechukwu Ugorji will attest to the fact that he has thought about running for Governor in his home state of Imo, Nigeria, for over ten years. I read an email blast titled “Fixing to run,” authored by Polycap Odoemene, wherein the urbane Ugorji teased us with a potential run for a public office in Nigeria. If he decides to run, it certainly would not have been a rush to action. Even as the 2015 general elections approach, with roughly five months to go, a carefully choreographed dance appears afoot, with a characteristic deliberation and analysis.


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The uncertainty of the incumbent governor’s run for reelection (Governor Okorocha appears more enamored with running for president in the All Progressives Congress or positioning himself for a Vice Presidential pick), the wide spread of unease and a sense of absentee government, combine with the looming mother of all nominations battle for the ticket in the Peoples Democratic Party, to make Imo State a tossup in 2015. And in a year of tossups, an unblemished, uncorrupted improbable candidate with an international experience in public administration, running on the platform of a virgin party with Igbo-centered disposition, may well spring the sweetest surprise of 2015. It is into this space that Dr. Ugorji is cautiously stepping.


The fact that a Nigerian candidate for public office would set up an explanatory committee to look into the viability of his candidacy already indicates that Imo State is about to be visited with a new kind of political campaign. Campaigns are supposed to be journeys in time. The nature and style of a campaign should reflect not just the candidate’s character and pedigree, it should also give the world an indication of the manner of administration the candidate will run if and when she or he is successful. In this case, what I call the tiger’s foreplay (Ugorji’s unconventional approach – by Nigerian standards) suggests that we may be witnessing a truly thinking man’s journey towards winning the hearts and souls of an electorate he considers a thinking electorate. The tiger is the ubiquitous symbol of the United Progressive Party (UPP).

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This journey in its current phase appears to have begun for Ugorji with an encounter he had with Chief Chekwas Okorie at the Igbo Colloquium held in Enugu in March of this year, organized by a group that has been transformed into Alaigbo Development Foundation. Ugorji had attended the event as one of the billed presenters, choosing to speak on “Swimming back ashore: The Igbo Diaspora and the Transformation of the Igbo Commonwealth.” It was a topic that would foreshadow his current quest.


Upon his return from that gathering, we read a report from Ugorji in which he told us that Chekwas Okorie’s UPP and its zoning of the presidential ticket to the South East smacks of the entrance of a tiger into the Nigerian political terrain (see https://247ureports.com/?p=54419). In a piece that was as non-committal as it showed its author’s coveting of the compelling metaphor of a tiger, Ugorji gave us the first indication that his long-rumored interest in seeking to serve Imo as its Chief Executive, may well find potency and residence in the new UPP. We now await a final decision.

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